What is Mobile Push Notifications?
Push notifications have become a common way to drive customers’ attention to a business. Be it a mobile phone, a tablet, a smartwatch, or a computer, businesses can push notifications on all possible devices connected to the internet. With the ability to send messages without knowing one’s phone number or email address, push notifications are a widely popular tool among the marketers and businesses.
Surveys have found that Push notifications can boost App engagement by 88% and App retention by two times. Not just that, 50% of users across all the platforms opt into push notifications by free will as they find them useful.
What is a push notification?
Push notifications are small messages sent by an app publisher or website to its users. Depending on the type of device and publisher, users can receive a push notification on their mobile app or website browser. A push notification can contain a link to a particular website or application page, or it can also merely consist of a message without any link or call-to-action.
Here is how a push notification with a link or Call-to-Action looks like-
Below is how a Notification without CTA, used for merely informing the user on stuff, looks like-
What are mobile push notifications?
Any notification you receive on a mobile device is a mobile push notification. Based on the source of notification and medium for receiving them, we can classify mobile push notification into different names-
App push notifications
Sent by an app to its users who have installed the app and have opted-in to receive the same.
Web push notifications
Sent by a website publisher on web browsers to the users who have opted-in to receive the same.
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Browser push notifications
Special kinds of web push notifications supported on particular web browsers only. Ex- Chrome push notifications.
A push notification service is a platform or web service that powers a push notification software. You can relate push notification services to your mobile network provider. As your mobile network provider powers your phone by offering a channel of communication, push notification services are similarly the carriers who deliver your push messages to your users.
Popular examples of best push notifications services are as follows-
- Amazon SNS
- IBM Mobile Push Notification
- Google’s Firebase cloud Messaging (FCM)
Examples of best push notification software or tools powered by push notification services are as follows-
- Urban Airship
Push notification service comparison- SaaS Vs Firebase push notifications
There are two types of push notification software or tool in the market- SaaS and self-hosted.
The SaaS-based software is offered as a service where vendors charge on monthly, yearly, or on a per-notification basis from the businesses using the service to send push notifications.
The self-hosted push notification tools come at a one-time cost and vendors do not charge the businesses for sending notifications. Once purchased, the tool is owned by the client. Hence, there are no recurring charges.
Both SaaS and self-hosted push notification tools use any random push notification service as a carrier of the messages. For example, many of them use Google’s FCM, which is a free web service for push notifications. Vendors use the free API from FCM to develop a full-fledged push notification software, equipped with UI required to conduct the push marketing functionalities like-
Create notification, Schedule notifications, Segment audience, Track Notifications delivery, and much more. FCM offers all these features as a FREE service, but not a full-fledged tool that can be used on the go. FCM provides a key saved on the app server called as “Server Key”. Using this server key, developers fetch all these services of FCM in their notification tool.
Please note: Server key provides the app server with an authorized access to Google services. Without the key, it is not possible to integrate FCM or any other push web service in an app.
On the other hand, most of the SaaS-based tools do not allow businesses to use their own “server authentication key”. The developers only offer the necessary code snippet or API required to integrate the tool with their websites. The API can be revoked anytime when clients decide to quit the particular service.
How does push notification work in Android?
The Android devices receive two types of push notifications- App push notifications and Web push notifications.
App push notifications-
For app push notifications, user opt-in automatically while installing the particular mobile app. However, they can also opt-out from the notifications at any time from the app-permission settings or in-app settings. Moreover, many mobile apps also offer the choice of preferences for receiving only a certain kind of push notification.
Caption: Preference for receiving notifications on Netflix and Facebook Mobile apps
Web push notifications-
Android users also receive browser-based notifications from websites. Websites with push notification integration generally ask the visitors to “Allow” push notifications from them on each visit. If blocked, users will not receive that notification from the particular website. However, if allowed, the users are added to the subscribers’ list and they receive all the notifications sent by the website to its subscribers.
The opt-in box from a typical website looks like this image-
The web push notification on an Android device is shown to the users in three interfaces-
- As a banner on the mobile web browser
- As a banner on phone’s notification board
- As a banner on the lock screen
How does push notification work in iOS?
Unlike Android, iOS mobile and tablet users need to opt-in to the notifications manually. As soon as iPhone or iPad users install an app, on the first usage itself, they receive a pop-up asking if they want to opt-in for push notifications from the particular app; something like in this screenshot from an iPhone-
Users can also set the notification preferences from app setting interface as well, same as Android. They can choose to block notifications or can also select the layout of the notification such as Badge or Banner layout.
Image courtesy- imore.com
Users see push notifications on iOS as banners on the lock screen and on the notifications board as well.
iOS devices do not support web push notifications from any third-party web browsers. However, Safari push notifications are available in the native iOS style, similar to iOS app push notifications.
Safari users need to opt-into web push notification in the same way as in web push notifications for Android devices. They too will see an opt-in box while visiting a push-supported website.
A bonus about Firebase (FCM)
Google’s Firebase, formerly known as Google Cloud Messaging, offers a platform to develop mobile apps, helps in growing user base and earning money from the app. Firebase retains all the features that you can customize to tailor the web service according to your requirements. With inbuilt in-App Messaging, Google Analytics, and Cloud Messaging, you can easily implement push notifications to grow your user base instantly. Though it also offers many paid plans, its free Spark Plan is a good choice for starters and gaining a hold of the tech at first.
You can achieve a cross-platform push notification delivery in no time through the new SDK API that supports notifications across the platforms such as iOS, Android, and Google Chrome. Many of the modern-day push notification services and tools have been built on this tech alone. It is one of the most popular libraries for resources required to develop apps and push notification tools.
Over to you
I hope this article on mobile push notification was able to inculcate a detailed understanding of push notifications. I aimed at covering the topics that would help businesses to select a suitable push notification tool or service. Optimistically, you should now be able to answer the basic questions like what are push notifications, what are mobile notifications, how push notifications work on different platforms, and how many kinds of push notifications tools and services are there in the market.
Marry Ann is a branding consultant for PushMaze, a service that lets you send trackable push notifications for users. She mainly passionate about building brands in all aspect of online marketing.